Salt

Reach

There’s a branch

A net

A blanket

Held by a family

Waiting to catch

He’s dead

And much

too distracted

She’d try

If the cells weren’t

Unstable and mutinous

He’s just like me

Looks and despondent

Disposition

Godless seeker

All anchor

No raft

Swim toward

The chorus echoes

Behind masked

Faces

Blank in front

Of blank

Reach

For the Pagan

In your bed

Or the

Rope sent

From the heavens

What if you believe

In neither?

In faith was long

Ago burned by

Emulsion of misplaced

Trust, rendered fat

And a spark that

Refused to

Alight

Reach to

Yourself

Arms tight

Around

A poor

Sailor’s knot

And try to

Breathe

Through

Salt

Didn’t See

Who does your hair?

He asked me from the hospital bed

What size shoe do you wear?

Me.

Size 9. Maybe bigger.

How do you get it to stay like that?

Days of oil and a rubber band.

Why did you look away?

I didn’t.

No, listen, I need you to believe I didn’t look away.

That’s not me.

I don’t look away from ugly scars.

Blood doesn’t bother me.

Decay and shit and desperation.

I don’t look away.

Why?

What did you see?

Tell me.

What did I let you see?

Before you leave.

Please.

Tell me what you didn’t see.

Moth in Motley

Requests are refusals

Needs are needles

Wants are worthless

Asks are assumptions

You didn’t deserve

Fine

I didn’t deserve

Better

Spirals

Like lost stairways

Where trinkets of us

Fall between cracks

And left behind parts

Follow them

Calling out

For lost limbs

every time

A ghost touches

The railing

If I don’t know

Enough to mistrust

Who is more

The fool

Fools don’t know

They are crazy

Or is it the other

Way

Round

Dressed up in a

Harlequin motley

Of

Over

Emotional

Sensitive

Ir

Regular

Rational

Respective of

The rules of

Court

Is the moth that

Fights the draw of

The light

Resilient

Or dishonest?

Will she bear

Sharp teeth

Or begin to swim

If pressed

Begged

Provoked

No

She flies

As she must

Perched to

Rest

And flies again

Knowing

It is her

Doom

Once Upon an Albatross

 

Red-faced

one way and 

another

I wait

and wait

and wait

The burn will blister 

and ooze

soon enough

Unexpected 

since I wasn’t the 

one in the fire

But the gods

do get a laugh

out of their 

distribution of

gifts

and 

grievances

So I wait

maiden 

to 

crone

mother

to 

dowager

virgin 

to

harpy

Face 

like acid

heart

like thunder

brain

a calvary

of untrained beasts

Who are they

charging against?

The battle field is 

empty

war declared

then abandoned

long ago

So I rage

against the

bare balustrades

and the

destitute dales

of my 

defeated mind

 A horse

A horse

my kingdom

for an escape

from this hell

And I’d kill the beast

with my expectations

without every

laying a hand

Maybe instead

turn and 

plan a path

alone

Sail

Remember when the bed

was a raft?

A lifeboat to carry you

through the volcano

lava of the bedroom floor

a magical mattress 

impervious to the heat of the world

Is it still?

What if I need it to be?

What if the carpets and 

halls of now-

when I fill the bed

with height and weight

and expectation and 

emotional bulk-

what if I need that bed

to sail away?

Still only me

solo passenger

sagging on my 

skin and

my side of the 

bed

Not to where the 

wild things are-

they’re here-

ranting and stomping

in my head and 

all around-

but somewhere else. 

A quiet place

away from 

rumpus and 

questions 

and 

things I wanted

but 

now wonder

I can’t leave

What if the ship

pushes off 

without me

Can’t leave

No

I can’t get out

Not today

In Check

 

A new writer I discovered, Alissa Ashley, @alissa_ashleyy, just blew my mind with her simplicity of defining the chaos and exhaustion of anxiety. 

“I require alone time to function and keep my mood in check.”

She is in my soul. 

I started acting like as asshole the second I woke up this morning. I wish I could excuse it, or reason it away. Nope. Just an asshole. 

For hours, I tried to reason out what my malfunction was and why I was leaking black brain bile on the person who was trying to love me and help. 

Twelve hours later and I’m still fumbling for a solution or at least five minutes of furlong. The person trying to love and help is probably two drinks deep at a bar, having long given up on me.

That compact but explosive sentence by Ms. Ashley illuminated my transgressions like a search light. 

Dealing with my anxiety brain is exhausting. So, so much mental work has to go on simply to process benign stimuli. 

Conversations go like this:

Someone: Hey! Look at this fun letter I drew!

Some Other People: Cool!

And then…

 

Me: Cool!*

*Anxiety Brain: Wow. They’re really good. Why are they even talking to you? You can’t do anything like that? Remember that time you tried to make something and it was awful? Yeah. That’s every time and will absolutely be every time you ever try to create anything for the rest of your life. You should probably stop what you’re doing and throw yourself out this window. 

*Reasonable Brain: Okay. Let’s take a breath here Let’s stop and count and review our therapy cues and coping. That’s an unreasonable response. That person has had hours and days and years of time to learn and practice and become skilled at art. You haven’t. You can do other things. It’s totally fine. You’re totally fine. Stop…no…stop digging your nails into your skin. That doesn’t address this emotion, that creates a cover sensation. How about we get the red pen? Do we need the red pen? We actually seem a little dizzy. Let’s sit down and take a break for a second. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

And on and on and on it goes. My brain is dealing and processing and navigating a misinterpreted conversation line from thirty minutes ago and whoever I am talking to has no doubt fled the conversation because I shrugged it off with a “fine” or “whatever, must be nice” or my absolute darling, “k.”

Ass. Hole. 

It’s truly back-grinding and reserve-demolishing work. I can in all honestly run a half-marathon on only a fraction of the energy it takes to maintain my mood and not explode into irrational anger or torrential tears. 

Maintaining composure and rational behavior in the midst of anxiety, it’s an ache to the cellular level. Like contracting every single muscle in your body to tiptoe across a drawbridge splintering with every step, but only you see it. Each progression of an inch takes the effort of traversing an entire city. Every other passerby seems to be able to trod across as though it was a path of solid steel. Meanwhile, your every fiber is aflame and disintegrating with the exertion. 

That’s why I have to step away. Or crawl away, depending on how bad the day is. I can only imagine how trying it is to be on the other side, when I know these pangs. 

So, tonight, away from humanity again.  Alone. Trying to keep it all in check. 

Afraid

I was afraid he’d stop breathing

During his impossible naps

I was afraid he’d fall and bleed

When he started walking too soon

I was afraid his own cells

Wouldn’t stop attacking his body

I look at him now

And see

This beautiful, peaceful, happy

White son

Barely beyond a decade

Full of joy

But sometimes,

I look at his crumpled face

And see

his anger

Will someone be afraid of him someday?

I’ve been hurt by white men

Death

Divorce

Desertion

Denial

Never with such devastation

Will my son

Who looks like killers

Be someone who hurts?

How do I stop?

What do I say?

How can I discipline?

When step away?

Will I be afraid of him?

The boy I loved the

Moment he formed

Before any of him

Formed

And then we formed him

Or tried

What if

I’m afraid